ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta rode a dominant first half to beat Gainesville for a second time this season and advance to the next round of the state playoffs.
The Raiders opened a 28-point lead in the second quarter and fended off the Red Elephants for the eventual 41-24 victory.
“It’s always special to win in the playoffs,” head coach Jacob Nichols said. “They have now tied a school record of number of wins in a season at 10. We’re building off our goals and hopefully are setting a new standard.”
The win was Alpharetta’s 10th-straight and earned the Raiders a second round berth for the first time in three seasons.
Nolan Edmonds’ scored three touchdowns for the Raiders Friday night. He had a 39-yard rushing touchdown, a 36-yard reception for a score and returned a kickoff 98-yards for a touchdown. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry on 17 rushes.
“[Edmonds] definitely had the hot hands last night,” Nichols said. “He’s built for playoff football and was definitely a key to our success [Friday] night.”
Both of Edmonds’ offensive scores came in the first half as the Raiders built a 31-3 lead and looked firmly in control. However, a 68-touchdown pass from Gainesville on the last play of the second quarter breathed new life into the Red Elephants sideline.
“I thought we had a great first half and were in a position to put it away,” Nichols said. “I think we took for granted the clock was running and in hindsight, we probably should have called a timeout to make sure we were all on the same page.”
After cutting the lead before the half, Gainesville scored on their opening possession of the third quarter to put Alpharetta’s lead to 31-17.
But Edmonds’ would return the ensuing kickoff for a score to put the momentum back with the Raiders. Gainesville was held to a single, late touchdown and surrendered a safety midway through the fourth quarter.
Alpharetta’s defense forced four turnovers, including two interceptions from Jake Tice. Gainesville was held to 3-14 on third-down conversions and sacked four times.
The Raiders will have home-field advantage again next Friday as they host Douglas County (10-1) in the second round. It will be the first meeting between the two programs.
Nichols said the Tigers look similar to Gainesville in that they have a sizeable, athletic team.
“They’re definitely going to present a challenge so we’re going to have to be prepared to play four quarters,” Nichols said. “I think we have a chance next week to go out and build towards our ultimate goal and make some noise.”